Crystal Palace suffered their second defeat on the bounce against Burnley on Saturday, a result which will have left Roy Hodgson scratching his head in confusion.
It is a slump that has sparked some speculation that Hodgson is facing an uncertain future at Selhurst Park after the 3-0 loss to Sean Dyche’s side.
Chairman Steve Parish has previously backed the under-fire manager, but whether or not his patience has started to wear thin remains to be seen.
The Eagles started the new year so brightly with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United, where Jeffrey Schlupp and Eberechi Eze were both able to find the back of the net.
But their form soon tailed off following back-to-back Premier League defeats to Manchester City and West Ham, and after yet another defeat, they now find themselves level on points with Southampton, though the Saints now have two games in-hand over the south London outfit.
While Palace’s usually dependable right-back Nathaniel Clyne looked uncharacteristically out-of-sorts against the Clarets, Patrick van Aanholt, who replaced Tyrick Mitchell at left-back, endured a torrid afternoon against Matt Lowton.
However, it’s fair to say that a portion of the blame for the loss must be shared elsewhere, as Michy Batshuayi was arguably one of the worst offenders as the Belgian cut a frustrated and isolated figure upfront for most of the game.
Batshuayi has largely failed to replicate the form that saw him score six goals in 13 appearances during his first loan spell with the Eagles in 2019 and once again, he struggled to earn a foothold in the game against Burnley at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
SofaScore graded the 27-year-old as one of the worst players on the pitch with a miserable 6.4 rating to sum up his unimpressive display for Palace – of all his teammates, only Clyne, Eberechi Eze, Vicente Guaita and Van Aanholt scored lower for their efforts.
The Belgian barely made much of an impact and apart from an intricate bit of link-up play with Eze and Christian Benteke in the first half, he was hardly involved at all.
The centre-forward lost six out of his ten duels (60%) overall in the entire game, which means he lost the majority of his individual battles with the Burnley defence. He also only took 28 touches – which was far fewer than Clyne’s 64 – and was dribbled past once as well.
Bearing this in mind, it will surely raise a few eyebrows if he starts again against Brighton in eight days’ time. After all, the Chelsea loanee has hardly caught the eye since his return to south London, having only scored once in his past 16 Premier League appearances.
With new signing Jean-Philippe Mateta among the subs, Hodgson is hardly short of options at present. If the latter can reproduce the form that saw him score seven goals in the Bundesliga, Batshuayi may be left to rue his missed chances.
AND in other news, Patrick van Aanholt endured an afternoon to forget in Premier League defeat…